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thrash from the trenches - 84%

UltraBoris, June 21st, 2004

Top notch death-thrash to be found here, sounding pretty out-there for 1988. This is done by the assorted blastbeats and other death-metal drum patterns, combined with the fast-as-fuck riffage, and the bass-heavy, thick production that is not that far removed from a band like Suffocation. Add in Darren Travis's crazed shrieking vocal delivery, and get one of the most extreme thrash releases of all time.

The tempo changes are very varied, from midpaced war-march intro to hyperfast blasting and back and again, all within the same song. The whole album has a battle feel to it, going back and forth between premeditated attack and all-out chaos... best embodied by the song "Sadus Attack", and then reflected also in the opener "Certain Death", and - to a lesser extent - the closing noise of "Chemical Exposure". The closer is pretty omittable, given that it comes last and doesn't feature any riffage. It sounds more like a Bathory intro/outro than anything else - lots of creaking doors and horrendous bass pieces, the final gasps of a mutilated zombie army, neutralised by the mustard gas when all other options failed.

The songs are short and sweet, with "And Then You Die" clocking in at a mere minute-forty-five, and the epic (intro included) "Certain Death", mirroring Hell Awaits to the rest of the album's Reign in Blood a whole four-fourteen. The next song, "Undead" comes in at a solid 4:02 and is probably the most complex song on here, reminiscent of Slayer trying to do a song like "Twisted Minds" (Possessed), with some of the riff cues coming from the latter, and the solo from the former.

The war comes to a full-tilt with "Sadus Attack", half triumph-of-death turned into clockwork in the intro, then "GO!" and the whole thing explodes into violent fury, before the explicit "ATTACK!" order is given and the song continues in its whiplash fashion, all hell letting loose, right on command. The whole thing is over in 1:44, the shortest song on here, but not nearly as incomplete as "Piece by Piece" or anything by SOD. It's a skirmish, the dust settles, the bodies are counted, and we move on.

Travis's vocals are something to behold... frightfully shrieky, but not quite in the Bathory sense, and certainly not the Dani "fuck my ass" Filth sense. TORTURE!!!!!!!! Throw in these awful shrieks over the fast Death/Slaughter passages (though more clean and with a guitar distortion more like that of Atheist), and then of course those absurdly great midpaced thrash moments. See for example, "Hands of Fate" which is total Slayer-meets-Slaughter, as it starts slow and then turns into another festival of brutality and absurd tempo changes.

I think this album is under a half-hour. The comparisons to Reign in Blood are inevitable. While not quite as historically awe-inspiring, this must still be commended for progressing the "thrash" genre - a real achievement for 1988. The death-metal influence is subtle, and verrry old-school - don't expect to hear any Morbid Angel-like noise passages here, even though the drumming is pretty non-traditional.

The best Sadus. Go get it.